Redeemed Cycles CB550
By James McCombe - 18 May 15
A brand can be a difficult thing to get right. An acquaintance once ran into trouble when trying to market his molasses substitute in the US. His fake-treacle products just didn't take off and he couldn't for the life of him work out why his 'Delicious Feacle Treats' weren't selling. If, like Bob Ranew, you'd become rather prolific with your builds, yet hadn't taken the leap from Shed to Pro builder, when do you do it? When is the right time to sit down and sketch out that doodle and name that will forever define your late nights and hard graft. It's a tough call. Bob took that leap and settled on Redeemed Cycles. A simple moniker playing off the inadequacies of the donor bikes and the quest to improve them. Bob suggests that perhaps his builds don't stand up to some of the big budget builds we feature, but looking at the clean lines and quality finish I'd argue against that statement vehemently. His mission is to build appealing bikes for under $5000 and whatever formula he's concocted seems to be working. Sure it means sticking with some original components and having to get creative rather than browsing Ebay, but that's no bad thing. His bikes have a definite resto-mod quality because of it. And there's a market for them too. An easy thing to forget when a build-tab begins to soar, but kind of critical if you want to do more than one project. It was about 12 months ago when Bob started searching out the donor for this build. Pickings were surprisingly slim, the boom of new wave customs having decimated yards and garages of suitable snotters. Most bikes he could find were either too far gone or far too much. Eventually finding a solid base he pulled the trigger on a faded red CB550. Bike in van, Bob lamented paying too much, but the market decides and the market is becoming frustratingly spicy. Back home and unloaded, the process of careful, considered design began, or as Bob puts it: " I just stared at it for the longest time trying to figure out what to do with it". The lightbulb moment came when he remembered that a few months prior he'd bought a tail section from a KZ1000 and stuck it on a shelf. Quickly mocked up, he liked what he saw. This was the deciding factor in look of the machine. Trimmed down and frame de-cluttered, the Kawasaki tail went on quite easily, meeting sweetly with the CB tank. With a buddy knocking up a seat pan, Bob fabbed up a rear taillight assembly with a Lucas style unit and a mesh bracket. Tying the bodywork together would be a classic paint scheme. Rather than farm it out, Bob was convinced to have a go himself. Investing in some entry-level equipment and a decent compressor, he quickly learnt not only the basic skills but also a new respect for painters. Avoiding orange peel and blemishes takes immense skill and patience. With the support of his experienced friend, the results in the photos show the great results of Bob's labours. A cracking finish and a the beginnings of a new skill under his belt. Bob decided not to push his luck too far so found a local guy to apply a fine yellow pinstripe, separating the black and silver panels discretely. Crowning the tank is the traditional Honda latch type filler cap. Having seen better days, Bob's ear pricked up when an old-timer told him the recall from 1978 was still open. Uncertain whether this was folksy wisdom or bullshit, what's the harm in asking he thought. After almost being laughed out the dealership, a persuasive 1o minutes spent on their computer found that Honda did indeed still honour that recall. So a week later, a new locking cap and all new mounting hardware showed up. Now that's service! Getting the bike to sound as good as it looks meant some jiggery-pokery with the exhaust; the racket from the rusted out original was a little too much to be pleasant. Sourcing a MAC 4:1 header, Bob had seen Steel Bent Customs match them to a Cone Engineering silencer and this seemed like the ideal solution. She now sings a raspy song befitting of such a beauty. Wanting that rear triangle clear means hiding all the essential electrics out of sight and hopefully, out of mind. Bob was aiming to get everything tucked up nicely under the seat so a slim box was welded between the rails to hold the spaghetti. All was well until the Ballistic battery turned up and Bob realized he had mis-measured by about a 1/4". Curse words completed and resourceful as ever, a new perforated box was manufactured and sited down by the swingarm. You wouldn't know it wasn't always meant to be there if Bob hadn't spilled the beans. To get the CB running smooth Dave Jansen at Combustion Cycles leant a hand, applying his years of knowledge to the carbs. With an ultrasonic clean, a rejetting and fitted with a brace of Uni Filters, the 550 lump pulls strong throughout the range. Matching the rejuvenated lump to freshly built forks and brakes along with a new set of shocks, the whole bike has received a thorough going over. Bob muses that perhaps he could have gone with a wider rear tire which is easy enough to do retrospectively. But would it upset the sweet handling CB chassis too much? Either way, there will be another build; this one will soon be on it's way to a new home and Bob is looking for the next challenge. He clearly has his eye dialed in and out there is another bike waiting to be 'Ranew-ed' (Badum-tish).